4 out of 4 stars
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When Celia invited her younger sister, Meghan, and Meghan’s friend, Libby, to London for the week, she anticipated fun and adventure. The last thing she expected was to be plagued by fears brought on by her feelings of responsibility for the teenage girls. This trip was supposed to be a chance to relax, to enjoy some bonding time with her sister before Meghan heads off to college. An unexpected encounter with a young woman who desperately needs help abruptly changes the mood of the trip. The girls must step out of their comfort zone to act. Helping Sabine seems to be the right thing to do, but what if the girls’ good intentions don’t turn out for the best?
Saving Sabine, by Kelley Rene, is a contemporary-fiction novella inspired by true events. In the back of the book, Rene includes a link to further information about the events that lead to the creation of the novella. The author aims to create awareness of the plight of young women who are drawn into the life of prostitution by lofty promises of money and success. They leave home thinking they will earn a better life only to find themselves trapped in a life of drug addiction and destruction. To facilitate discussion about the events of the book, she even included a set of thought-provoking questions.
Celia’s emotions throughout the story created an air of suspense, and her feelings were relatable. The loss of their mother has made her feel responsible for Meghan, but Meghan feels ready to make her own decisions. Meghan and Libby are annoyed with Celia’s overprotective nature, especially when their immature antics cause Celia to overreact to their harmless intentions. The seriousness of Sabine’s plight, however, causes Celia to face her fears and overcome her anxiety. At the same time, the girls are given a chance to step out with courage that will mature them as they look beyond themselves.
The only thing that would have made the book better would have been a bit more backstory for Celia, Meghan, and their mother. Rene’s writing style allows the reader to put most of the pieces together. I, however, would have liked to see a little more development of the events that caused so many regrets and insecurities in Celia. There seems to have been tension between Celia and her mother, but Meghan and their mother had a more positive relationship. Glimpses are given into the past, but we never get the full story on what events lead up to the events in this novella.
Still, the overall impact of the author’s message left me satisfied at the end of this beautiful story. In the end, it left me feeling challenged to step out of my comfort zone, to think beyond myself, and to help others. This well-edited novella deserves a 4 out of 4. I might have considered taking a half point off for the lack of backstory for the main characters, but that would still round up to 4. This story is inspirational fiction that may appeal more to a Christian audience, but the author was never preachy. Instead, she offers a compassionate message of helping others and the power of prayer in reuniting loved ones.
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